Welcome to Autumn!
As the colder months begin to settle in I hope you are all well prepared for Autumn and the Winter ahead. Over the past month I have commemorated ANZAC Day around New Zealand, been visiting Stakeholders from Mosgiel to Westport and championing your concerns in Parliament.
This year for Anzac Day I joined the Mt Albert Grammar School community for a special service paying tribute to all the Albertians who have been a part of our armed forces in their Centenary Year. I also had the privilege on ANZAC Day to pay tribute to all those who served during the Korean War and the families they left behind at the Pt Chevalier RSA alongside one of the stalwarts of the Korean Veterans Community Lt. Wally Wyatt MNZM.
It was a special pleasure supporting him and other veterans at the poignant services and wonderful to join everyone afterwards for lunch at each event. It is really important to me that we remember those who have served for the future of New Zealand and our way of life.
Just before Anzac Day I wrote down my thoughts in the Indian Newslink about what it means to all New Zealanders, particularly those from multicultural backgrounds, check it out below:
Anzac Day is a day of reflection for our nation no matter which of our over 213+ ethnicities, religions and communities you belong to.
The comradery of the ANZAC message reaches out to all faiths and people in New Zealand in the spirit of service. New Zealand’s ANZAC spirit is one of a multicultural identity under the Southern Cross and devoted to the bonds of friendship between New Zealand and those we as New Zealanders protect. It is a character that perpetuates in the course of freedom and sacrifice in the cause of the freedoms of others regardless of their nationality.
The ANZAC will is not one of celebration or sadness, it is one of comradery and strength. It is emblematic of the memory of all those young men and women who have fallen for New Zealand since our nationhood. The service of soldiers from New Zealand to the Commonwealth and foreign shores to save others and protect their homeland forged our nationhood.
The story of early migrant settlers of the 19th and early 20th century joining the New Zealand contingents of the First World War despite racial and religious intolerance of the time no doubt makes their service harsher and particularly poignant.
They sailed for Egypt, Gallipoli and the Western Front in the cause of service and the knowledge of their duty to others. Jagt|Tagt Singh, an early Indian migrant to New Zealand from the Punjab Province, chose to join other New Zealanders in service fighting across the Middle East. Sgt Major Victor Thomas Low served at Arras and Marne through to the close of the war alongside his brother Norman who fought at Gallipoli and the Somme. Their addition to the New Zealand ANZAC legacy perpetuates through the message New Zealand in Bulford nestled on the hills of England, A large white chalk Kiwi Victor mapped out as part of the New Zealand Army Education Unit stationed in Salisbury Plain at the close of the Great War. Their Chinese ancestry made no difference to their valour as veterans of New Zealand.
More recently, the service of Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand as Governor-General of New Zealand and Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief and the initiation of Louis Singh Khalsa Talbot as the first baptised Sikh to join the New Zealand Defence Force in recent times are testaments to the continuing progression of the Anzac story into our modern multicultural nation. The story of our Anzac Spirit is a story of cultural identity. It is a story for all of us as New Zealanders no matter where we have come from because our communities all have their own identity in the story of service.
My personal Anzac story is being the descendant of those affected by the Korean War, losing family members to the ongoing conflict on the Korean Peninsula. My story is one as a journalist and now a Member of Parliament, celebrating the stories of our veterans across New Zealand and commemorating their legacy and their families.
Every New Zealander has an Anzac story in their life. If you have yet to find yours, I recommend that you walk down to your local school, church or library to start. There, among the flagstones and grounds, you may find a memorial to the names of those who served and stood where you stand today.
The Online Cenotaph is a permanent digital memorial to those who have served. Look to these community memorials and you will find those same names etched not only in granite but also in data as a part of our nation’s heritage and legacy.
No matter where you are this Anzac day one thing is clear,
We remember them.
Note: This article originally ran in Indian Newslink in April 2022
With the passing of the month of Ramadan comes the joy and celebrations of Eid across the Muslim world!
The stoic determination and efforts of our New Zealand Muslim brothers and sisters as they commemorated the heritage of their faith through weeks of fasting, prayer and commemorations should not be underestimated, particularly as COVID-19 has shaped our abilities to engage with one another in the ways we would like to best. The time of the year is special for followers of the Islamic faith. For people of other faiths, like myself, we should always be conscious of the importance these occasions are for identity.
It’s a timely opportunity to remind all people that diversity and differences can only add value to our country and will not hinder our identity as a multicultural nation.
National Party values our Muslim community and the important contributions they make to New Zealand. As a country, we should always reflect that religion, ethnicity or language differences should not be a barrier to our values but instead be recognised as an advantage to work together with others and celebrate our unity as New Zealanders.
Eid celebrations come as the country borders re-open, families re-unite and communities are able to gather once more. Eid al-fitr will be a truly special occasion this year for our Muslim community. The solemn dates of Suhoor and Iftar now transform into Sweet Eid cuisines of Knafeh, Balaleet and Halwa amidst Songs and Eid Prayers to acknowledge the year ahead.
Looking to New Zealand’s own year ahead we see many trials still for our country. As we enter colder months we see rising costs of living, continued difficulties for many at our borders to come to New Zealand with their skills and talents and further struggles for New Zealand business owners chafing at regulatory burden. This year’s Eid celebrations will fall within the shadow of the looming Budget for 2022 which will be announced on May 19th . We all can only hope there will be relief from the impacts of the past two years for all New Zealand in a similar way that Eid provides great joy following Ramadan.
No matter where you are spending Eid this year, I wish you all a very happy and blessed celebrations.
Note: This column originally ran in the Indian News in April 2022
Crime in our community
People around our community are getting concerned about crime across the Auckland Region. We are seeing shops being ram-raided, growing truancy numbers and a drop in confidence for safety on our streets. I've been visiting shops around Mt Albert and meeting with business owners in Auckland about ways we can make our community more secure and help all our stores and families feel safe.
Just in Auckland city the statistics are shocking with people now waiting nearly 2 hours for Police response around when back in 2017 it was only about 25 minutes.
Drastic action is needed at Police and from the Government to make people feel they can live safely in our city again.
Please reach out if you are not feeling safe in Auckland right now and as always please contact one of the agencies below if you or someone you know needs immediate help:
- 1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor.
- If it is an emergency, you can go here to find the number for the local crisis assessment team in your area.
- In a life-threatening situation always call 111.
Visits to Dunedin and the West Coast
Until recently COVID-19 had stopped the ability for New Zealanders to get around our great country. Over the past few days I have been travelling around New Zealand meeting with stakeholders across my portfolios to hear about what they need for the future of New Zealand. Thank you to my Parliamentary Colleagues Michael Woodhouse and Maureen Pugh for hosting me in your beautiful parts of New Zealand.
From Mosgiel and Dunedin to large stretches of the West Coast it was a real pleasure meeting so many people to talk about issues facing them, particularly around connectivity, digital exclusion and multicultural support. You can read all about my activities on these trips on my Facebook Page here.
As always, if you need help or want to hear from me further please reach out and we'll be in touch, my next regional tours will be taking me to the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Southland and the Waikato, stay tuned!
My Auckland Office at 107 Great South Road is open for appointments.
Under 'Orange' some COVID-19 policies are still in place in Parliamentary premises so please phone or email for a friendly chat before visiting the office so my team can help you.
Looking forward to talking again soon!
Until next time!
National List MP based in Auckland
Authorised by Melissa Lee Parliament Buildings, Wellington
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